Anyone out there who got Activision’s Guitar Hero World Tour video game for Christmas has probably already rocked out to The Hushpuppies’ track, “You’re Gonna Say Yeah”. They are in good company, as the game also includes tracks from R.E.M. and Modest Mouse.Having caused quite a stir in their native France with some high octane live performances, the band is now busy crossing the Atlantic and taking on America. Their album, Silence Is Golden (Minty Fresh, Stateside, November 2008), is produced by Peter Deimut, who has worked with The Kills, among others.
It took over 420 studio hours to try and nail the band’s high energy, guitar blazing, key driven jams. Silence Is Golden may have a familiarity not only with the title, but also the influences that leap out at you like long lost friends. Clearly singer Olivier Jordan, drummer Franck Pompidor, guitarist Cyrille Sudreaud, and keyboard player Wilfried Jourdan grew up in Perpignan listening to some quality music. There are huge splashes of the best of British from the 60s — for example, The Kinks, and the Small Faces — which are mixed in with some later influences such as The Hives. Importantly though, the band adds their own individual style. It's a winning combination.Adding Bordeaux bass player Guillaume Le Guen, they moved to Paris and continued their musical journey listening to The Queens Of The Stone Age. The result is a nicely balanced mixture of all of these elements set alight by some fat and fiery riffs and well constructed pop-rock songs, all capped with infectious enthusiasm.The Hushpuppies project huge dashes of positive garage energy combined with a healthy awareness of potential arena rock. Anyone worried about the French connection need not be concerned as the band deliver faultless, authentic sounding, English vocals. The jangly start to “A Trip To Vienna” suddenly opens out into a full-on garage pulse of fuzz driven guitar and pounding keys. Both announce the band’s arrival with more than a touch of panache. An impressive start.“Lost Organ” opens with swirling keys, and all-important attitude. “Moloko Sound Club” and “Bad Taste And Gold On The Doors” both work well, the latter being an impressive post-punk, organ drenched fuzz fest. The ethereal “Love Bandit” slows it all down nicely and is a standout track. It has atmosphere and 60’s sensibilities, set amid a spaced out feeling.“Down, Down, Down” continues that vibe perfectly before opening out in now familiar Hushpuppies style. “Fiction In The Facts” and “Lunatics Song” sit comfortably before the high energy “Hot Shot” kicks in with a Kinks-style lyric. “Broken Matador” takes us to slightly darker territory. It is a mood continued with “Harmonium”.Silence Is Golden ends with the standout “You’re Gonna Say Yeah”. There is enough quality on this album to get you saying just that. Whilst drawing from their influences, the band has enough individuality, character, energy, and style of their own to sound fresh, distinctive, and full of potential.This album should see them begin to rise above the crowd. The balance between light, against dark, melodic, to rock, works well. Bright and jangly one moment to fuzzed out trip land the next, they succeed in keeping the album interesting. For me it’s the keys that are the killer - that, and some imaginative songwriting and lyrics. Keep an eye on this band. You should be hearing a lot more from them very soon.